Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Like A Rising Tide

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)

And so it begins. After one generation of faithfulness came centuries of apostasy. The generation of those who were born in the wilderness and saw the conquest of Canaan were faithful to God themselves, but they failed to pass on that deposit of faith to their children. One day we who are alive today will all be dead and gone. Everything we have done to build the church and spread the gospel will come to ruin and loss if we fail to plant that spark in the next generation. And, sadly, throughout history that seems to be the rule, rather than the exception. It certainly was in ancient Israel, but even in the church age, don’t complacency and apostasy always seem to follow faithfulness and devotion? Revivals grow cold and worldliness seeps into Christian institutions. We are delighted when God is doing a “new thing” but it is because the old thing has failed. In this way history testifies to the reality of the Fall. The postmillennialists are wrong. No perfect millennial kingdom will ever arise in this life through the slow accumulation of godliness.

But there is still hope. Of course the Day is coming when God will banish all evil and glorify his saints, but that’s not all. There is hope for this age, too, because no matter how many times we falter God never lets us fail utterly. The Kingdom advances like a rising tide. Each wave slips back, but soon another one comes that reaches further inland. The gospel has advanced generation by generation throughout the whole earth and millions upon millions have been saved. Faithful fathers do raise their sons to know and love God. A remnant always remains and God does indeed do a “new thing” when darkness seems to be getting the upper hand. God never gives up on us. He has a plan and he will not be thwarted. Lord, I want to do my part in your plan. Help me to lead my sons into faithful manhood. Show me how to do my part in the advancement of your Kingdom in this generation and the next. Let me be found faithful. Amen.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Peter and Jesus

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. (Lk 22:54)

We remember Peter for being the disciple who denied the Lord three times, but the wonder of it is that he was even there at all. When Jesus was arrested by the soldiers the other disciples ran away. Only Peter and John followed. Peter followed because he could not bear to be parted from Jesus, but when challenged he denied even knowing him. Peter’s love was great but his courage was weak. I want to love Jesus the way Peter did. We remember his moment of weakness. Let us not forget his heart of love.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Arrogance of Man

The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (Is 2:17)

All the things man prides himself in, his lofty towers (v15) and stately vessels (v16), will count for nothing in the Day of the Lord. Today we have wealth and power unimaginable in the days of Isaiah, but it will still count for nothing. As our power has increased so has our pride. This is a special temptation for Americans, I think. It is easy for gratitude for our blessings to slip into pride in our wealth and power. They had their towers and their stately vessels; we have our skyscrapers and our aircraft carriers. But God says:

Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty when he rises to shake the earth. (v19)

And so we must trust only in God:

Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (v22)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Even You

So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you. (Pro 22:19)

Something struck me as funny today when I read this. “I teach you today, even you.” Yes, even you, Bill Hensley. In many ways I feel like the most unlikely of disciples. I suppose we all feel that way at times. I think, "Lord, you should find someone more talented, someone more dedicated." But isn't that the point? It’s not about me but about him. God is in the business of making disciples out of unlikely candidates – Simon the impulsive fisherman, Saul the persecutor of the church. Even their names were changed. Later Paul understood this principle clearly:

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (I Cor 1:26-27)

The unlikelier you are as a candidate for sainthood, the more glory God will receive when he transforms you into a vessel fit for his service. Lord, mold me and shape me to be the man you desire me to be. I yield to your Holy Spirit. I am yours. Amen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Strong and Courageous

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Josh 1:9)

Moses has just died. God is commissioning Joshua as the new leader of Israel. They are about to enter the promised land at last. Three times in this passage God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous (v 6,7,9). Now Joshua was a stout-hearted man, but even he might have been nervous about stepping into Moses’ shoes and leading the conquest of Canaan. Joshua had great faith in God, but perhaps part of his faith had really been in Moses all these years. Moses was clearly anointed by God. No one had such a relationship with the Lord as he had. If Moses said, "God commands us to do X", you could be confident that was what God commanded. There is a certain comfort in being second in command, especially to one like Moses. Now Joshua had to step out on his own. But he was not actually alone. God is reassuring Joshua that he will be with him just as he was with Moses.

There comes a time when we each have to step up, take responsibility for what God is leading us to do, and not wait for someone else to show us the way. When God gives you a task, be strong and courageous! He will go before you, behind you and beside you. You are never alone when you are walking in his will. Be strong and courageous!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Knowing vs. Doing

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. (Pro 19:2)

Zeal isn’t enough. If you don’t know what you’re doing you’ll charge off half-cocked and make a mess. Running is no better than walking if you’re headed the wrong way. But the opposite problem is worse. To have knowledge and no zeal will accomplish nothing. He who knows what to do and doesn’t do it is worse than the one who doesn’t know what to do but tries anyway. Knowledge without action is sterile. Worse is the one who thinks he knows what to do, but then sits back and criticizes the ones who are actually in the fight, trying to accomplish something. Lord, give me zeal to match my knowledge and knowledge to match my zeal. Forgive me for ever thinking I know what to do but failing to act. Teach me humility in the face of those who try and fail when I have not even made the attempt. Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not Too Difficult?

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. (Deut 30:11)

A remarkable statement, given that Moses had just finished reading the entire Book of the Law to the people of Israel. I would have been daunted by it; I’m sure they were too. And today we know how it turned out – they failed miserably. Why did Moses think they could do it? Verse 14 contains the answer, "The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart that you may obey it." Their hearts were stirred by the reading of the Law, but they soon grew cold again. We have a profound advantage over the Israelites – Jesus Christ has given each of us a new heart, fresh and clean. And he has taken up permanent residence there.

It took thirty chapters for Moses to lay out all the provisions of the Law for the people, but in verse 19 he summarized it for them quite simply, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blesses and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Jesus is Life. Jesus is the Bread of Heaven that nourishes my soul. I choose Jesus.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blessings and Curses

The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. (Deut 28:20)

There are many wonderful promises in the Bible, but there are a few that are terrifying. Moses spoke this promise to the people of Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land. God, speaking through Moses, was reviewing with them one more time the terms of the covenant he had made with them. It is a covenant with both blessings and curses. Most of God’s promises have a flipside like that, although it is often unspoken. These promises present us with a choice. If we reject him, there are always consequences. God is not to be ignored or taken lightly. Lord, forgive me for frequently being so casual and noncommittal toward your commandments and your promises. It is not the outright rebellion that I often fall prey to, but the self-satisfied complacency and the distractions of the moment. Help me to be totally committed to you. When I am tempted to sin, remind me that the path of disobedience is dark, but the path of obedience is bright and blessed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Repentance and Restoration

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. (Joel 2:25a ESV)

Joel prophesies about a time when a great swarm of locusts has invaded Israel like a marauding army and has consumed everything in its path. The result is great famine and suffering. God sent the locusts in judgment for their sin, but then he calls them to repentance. In his call for repentance he makes this great promise: “I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.”

God’s mercy is so great. We know that sin has consequences and sin brings judgment. Sin destroys the sinner, and robs him of all joy and peace. But God is so generous to us when we repent that he will restore the years we have lost. Of course, we can’t literally go back and live that time again. Much that was destroyed remains so. But he restores our hearts and heals our wounds. And he redeems the lost years by finding a way to use for good what we had meant for evil. (Rom 8:28, Gen 50:20)

This promise means so much to me because I strayed from God for so many years. When I first came back to him I felt such a profound sense of loss at the time I had wasted. But God showed me that he had used those years to teach me a lesson I could learn in no other way. And now I can share with others the truth that was so dearly bought in my life: that God is merciful and good, and that he deserves my full devotion.

Lord, for those whom I hurt in my time of rebellion, for those who may also have strayed because of me, I pray that you would show them the mercy you have shown me. I pray that this promise would one day be theirs – that you would restore the years the locusts have eaten. I believe that if you let them persist on their wayward path it is only because there are lessons they can learn no other way. I pray they would learn them quickly. Amen.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Plowing Straight Ahead

Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:62)

Anyone who looks backwards while he is plowing will plow a very crooked furrow. We can’t serve God effectively if we keep looking back at the life we left behind to follow him. If I am going to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ I need to be “all in.” Complete commitment requires singleness of purpose. Lord, forgive me for the many distractions I entertain along the way. I am “all in” for your cause. I will keep my eyes on you. Lead and I will follow. Amen.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Called to Action

Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. (Eccl 11:4)

Some of us are by nature cloud watchers. I see all the things that might go wrong in any venture and I am tempted not to start. I am the sort of person for whom the saying was written, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Some people by their personality are at risk of going off half-cocked. I am at risk of never pulling the trigger. What accounts for this? The one who goes off half-cocked sees only the prize and doesn’t count the cost. The one who never pulls the trigger sees only the problems and dangers. Both have erred. Jesus said to count the cost (Lk 14:25-33), but having done so we are still called to action. If I am not willing to risk all for his sake I reveal the limits of my faith and my love for him. Lord, I will follow you wherever you lead. Teach me to keep my focus on you and not the wind and the clouds. Amen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

School of Hard Knocks

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut 8:3)

The latter half of this verse is famous because Jesus quoted it to the devil when he was tempted in the wilderness. But today it is the first half of the verse that caught my eye. To teach the Israelites this lesson he first had to humble them. God first caused them to hunger and only then did he send the manna. I am struck by the fact that he caused them to hunger. God uses our hardships to teach us, but he doesn’t necessarily just wait for a hardship to come. He sometimes brings hardship. He brings it not because he hates us, but because he loves us enough to want us to grow in our faith and character. I’ve said many times that most of the spiritual growth in my life has happened during the hard times. God’s plan for my life includes some hard times. Lord, thank you that, like a father who disciplines his son, you bring trials in my life to teach me. Like the Israelites may I learn humility and utter dependence on you. Amen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Long Way Around

It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road. (Deut 1:2)

It’s only an eleven day journey, but it took the Israelites forty years. Eleven days to walk that distance, and forty years to prepare their hearts. The forty year purification of those doubters and sinners in Israel is a metaphor for the lifelong process of my own sanctification, in which the doubts and sins must be slowly purged from my life. Why does it take so long? How can it take only a few days to learn the essentials of the faith and forty years to put them into practice? In less than a year it will have been forty years since I was saved. You’d think I’d be further along. For nearly half that time I wasn’t even walking with the Lord at all. But twenty years is still a long time. The answer is, I think, that the flesh dies slowly. One by one, the Israelites who sinned died off, and one by one my sinful attitudes and habits die off as well. Lord, thank you for your patience with me. I am glad that you can take the long view. I don’t think I would have been able to put up with me! But in your great love and wisdom you have patiently followed your plan for my life, slowly shaping me into the man you want me to be. I know you will finish what you have begun. Thank you. I yield to your guiding hand, as best as I am able. Have your way in me. Amen.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Talk Is Cheap

Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find? (Pro 20:6)

It is always so much easier to proclaim my undying love and faithfulness to God than it is to actually live it. Living it is the messy part. Church is fun, but the hard work begins on Monday. (Metaphorically speaking, that is. It can sometimes be difficult to keep a holy attitude even at church!) I keep thinking there is some secret to living the Christian life that I haven’t yet uncovered – something that will unlock hidden reserves of willpower and strength. I know that God is my strength, and the Holy Spirit who dwells in me is all powerful. But he is gentle and, alas, awaits my true surrender. It is finally my choice – to choose God over my flesh, to choose his way rather than the world’s way. But God must empower me to choose, or I will ultimately fail. The father of the demon-possessed boy said to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24) And so I can say, “Lord, I choose you; help me not to waver!”

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wisdom from Heaven

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)

I'd like to think of myself as wise, but am I pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere? That’s a tall order! That kind of wisdom doesn’t happen naturally. That kind of wisdom comes from heaven. And it doesn’t come all at once. It comes gradually over time as I immerse myself in God’s word and surrender my heart to his Holy Spirit. In truth, I still have a long way to go. We all do. This kind of wisdom is not head knowledge, it is heart training. I may know about God, but I have a long way to go to be conformed to his image. Lord, train my heart to embrace your wisdom, so that my life will be a reflection of who you are.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Mirror Doesn't Lie

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:23-24)

The word of God is like a mirror. When I look into it, it reveals to me what I am really like. If I never look into the word of God I might never see my own sins and shortcomings. James says when I listen to the word I should do what it says. Imagine if I looked in the mirror and saw that my hair wasn’t combed, my socks didn’t match, and my shirttail wasn’t tucked in, but then I walked away and did nothing. What good would that do? I need to comb my hair, change my socks and tuck in my shirttail! When I read the Bible and it shows me my sin, I need to make some changes. And when I read about the ministry God has called us to I need to act! Lord, help me to be a doer of the word.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wise in Your Own Eyes

Do not be wise in your own eyes. (Pro 3:7a)

What causes a man to be wise in his own eyes? Pride. This pride takes two forms. First, intellectual pride, which happens when I start to think I’m pretty smart and have life all figured out. Second, spiritual pride, when I begin to imagine that my faith is strong and my walk is pure. Pride will always trip us up. (Pro 16:18) The antidote to pride is to keep my eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. The very phrase “wise in his own eyes” implies taking our focus off God and putting it on ourselves. I need to keep my eyes on Jesus to remind me who I have to thank for my gifts and abilities and to remind me how far I have yet to go to become like him.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Plan of Redemption

He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation. They do not know his laws. (Ps 147:19-20a)

God in his wisdom chose one nation – the nation of Israel – through which to reveal himself. Actually he started with one man, Abraham, making a covenant with him that his descendents would become a great nation. Abraham is our spiritual father. God chose him, and from that humble beginning unfolded the great history of his redemptive work in the world. Lord, thank you that you revealed yourself to Abraham and made a covenant with his descendents. Thank you for Moses and all the prophets. And thank you that you chose to become incarnate in Jesus Christ to complete your revelation of yourself to us. Thank you that through the cross we can be reconciled to you and that through your Scriptures we can come to know you. Thank you that you have been working to fulfill your plan for thousands of years to gather a people to yourself. Thank you for saving me. Amen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Count Your Blessings

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. (Ps 145:8-9)

When you consider all the bad things that happen to people, some will conclude that God – if he exists – must be angry and cruel. But the reality is that every day God shows his love and his patience toward mankind. Yes, this is a fallen world and God allows many things to happen that are tragic. But we tend to take for granted the good things he gives to every one of us. Everything we have is a gift from our Creator. Life itself is a gift. Each breath, each meal, each night’s sleep is a gift. The love of family and friends, the peace and security of our homes – all are his gifts. The beauty of the earth and the skies, too. And, finally, we see his love and goodness in the gift of salvation through his Son. He is patient and slow to anger – not wanting anyone to perish. Every day that he delays the final judgment is further proof of his goodness to all.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vending Machine God

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mk 11:24)

When I was younger I believed in a vending machine God. I thought this verse meant that God’s answer was automatic because I was unfamiliar with the many verses that illuminate prayer more fully. I also thought it was somehow my faith that made the prayer come true, as though the power was with me. I forgot that God is an active participant in the process, and that the most important part of prayer is the Father’s will, not mine. And yet, I would do well not to make the opposite mistake, and somehow think that my faith is unimportant. God wants our will to be aligned with him, and our trust as well. The perfect prayer is both fully aligned with his will and completely confident in the power of God to bring it to pass. We know that God is faithful and true, and he has all power to accomplish his purposes. Our faith is not in a prayer or in a plan, but in God himself.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't Be Afraid

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mk 5:35-36)

Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” It is never too late for God to act. He is on his own timetable, and sometimes he chooses to wait until the situation seems completely hopeless. But we must never give in to fear. Instead, we must heed the words of Jesus and “Just believe.” God is sovereign. He heals. He saves. If he chooses to act he will do so in his own time. For my part I must simply remember he is in control.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Are You So Afraid?

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mk 4:39-40)

The disciples were afraid because they didn’t yet fully appreciate who they had with them. If they had truly understood that it was the Son of God asleep in the stern, they might have been able to guess that he was destined for a greater end than to drown in a storm. They would have known he has power over even the wind and the waves. Lord, help me to remember who I am with. I know you are all powerful and you love me. That’s all I need to know to drive away all fear. Even if I die today, I know I will be with you for all eternity.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Law vs. Grace

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu…offered unauthorized fire before the Lord…and they died before the Lord. (Lev 10:1-2)

Aaron and his four sons have not even finished their seven day ordination process when two of them overstep the bounds of their office and are struck dead by fire from the Lord. Later in that same week Moses was angry to discover that Aaron’s other two sons had broken another rule of the new sacrificial system (v16-20). But this time the error was not intentional so they were not punished. These two incidents, taken together, show both the extreme seriousness with which God viewed the laws he gave Moses, and the extreme difficulty of fully abiding by all of them. The Israelites thought that God had given them a means by which they could ensure the operation of God’s grace: "Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them." (Lev 18:5) But God had a different idea, which Paul understood: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we became conscious of sin.” (Rom 3:20) God’s standard of perfection is far beyond our poor ability to comply. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord, for the cross!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What Makes Jesus Angry?

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. (Mk 3:5)

Jesus was angry with the Pharisees because they condemned him for healing a man on the Sabbath. I’ve read this story of the man with the shriveled hand many times, but I don’t ever recall noticing that Jesus got angry. In fact, I can’t think of anywhere else that we are told Jesus was angry, although we might infer it at times. Certainly he drove the money changers out of the temple and called the Pharisees hypocrites. So what makes Jesus angry? Things like hypocrisy, lack of compassion and greed. Notably absent is any sense that he got angry at his accusers, his torturers or his executioners. He was willing to suffer, but he was not willing to allow others to suffer or be misled. His concern was always for others and not himself. Lord Jesus, help me to have the same selfless attitude that you displayed in your life here on earth.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Times of Trouble

If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! (Pr 24:10)

Funny how you can read something over and over again, and then one day it just pops out at you. I would swear they just added this verse this month!

Our measure is not taken in the good times but in the bad. When the weather is mild, no one finds out whether you’re a good sailor or not. In our spiritual lives as well, there are seasons when life is easy and seasons when it is hard. There is no point in patting ourselves on the back for “being spiritual” when life is easy. The testing of our faith is in the hard times. I have failed that test too often. I let myself be discouraged; I give in to fear. But it doesn’t have to be that way. God is always present. His Spirit always lives in my heart. I don’t stop being his child in hard times. Lord, remind me of your presence and your power when I am discouraged. I know you always love me and you have a purpose for every bad thing you allow to happen to me. I know that I grow spiritually far more in trials than in easy times. I will trust you and lean on you when trials come. Amen.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hope of Glory

Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Ex 40:34-35)

Which is the greater miracle, the Shekinah glory filling the tabernacle, or “Christ in you, the hope of glory?” (Col 1:27) How marvelous to think about a time when the presence of God was so clearly and indisputably present! How simple and obvious it was to follow God’s leading. When the cloud lifted, they followed it. But the Presence of the Lord was also carefully isolated from the people – inside the courtyard and behind two curtains. Even Moses could not enter the tent when the cloud settled upon it.

As marvelous as it was to have a direct, physical manifestation of God’s presence, the greater miracle is that today he lives in the heart of every believer! What a privilege to BE the tabernacle of God. By Christ’s atoning death for us the veil was torn and now, far from being separated from God, we could not be any closer. And yet…I still long to see God's Shekinah glory. I have his promise that I will – Christ in me, the hope of glory. His presence in me assures me that I will one day witness a far greater manifestation of his glory than anything the ancient Israelites ever experienced.

But what of those around us? God’s visible presence with the Israelites put all the other tribes and nations on notice – these are God’s people. What is God’s plan today? “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn 13:35) It is amazing that God’s plan for this age relies so heavily on us. In Moses’ day his presence was visible, and God worked mighty miracles to show the nations that he was the Lord of Israel. Today, God’s presence is in my heart and my life is supposed to demonstrate the reality of his presence! Lord, help me to rise to this tremendous challenge. I am deeply humbled that you have chosen us to be such an integral part of your plan. I am willing, Lord, but I know I need your help. Thank you for the work that you are doing in me to glorify yourself. Teach me to show your love to everyone around me, so that your presence would be real in their lives. Amen.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Undimmed by Years

[The righteous] will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. (Ps 92:14)

Athletes peak in their twenties; so do scientists. Movie stars often fade when they get older. Older workers have more trouble finding a job. How refreshing to know that where it matters most, in the Kingdom of God, old age is no obstacle. How many elderly Christians have I known who simply radiated love and faith in their old age? Their lamp was not dimmed, nor their influence diminished. (Cf. Deut 34:7) Thank you, Lord, that I can look forward to my best years of witness and ministry as I mature in you. I want to serve you for as long as you keep me here on earth.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Innocent Of Their Blood

Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:26-27)

Paul was faithful to his calling. Heedless of personal danger and hardship he had faithfully "testified to the gospel of God’s grace" (v24). He gave all and risked all and he knew there was nothing more he could have done to bring others to Christ. And so he declared himself innocent of the blood of all men. What about me? I am afraid I have passed up many opportunities to tell others about Jesus. How many people needed to hear the Gospel from me and didn’t? What blood am I guilty of? Lord, forgive me for not proclaiming the Gospel boldly and consistently. Have mercy on those who could have heard it from me but didn’t. Teach me to be faithful to the calling you have given me. I want to be your faithful witness to the lost.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Undivided Heart

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name. (Ps 86:11)

An undivided heart! That’s what I want. To hold onto God and let everything else go. I am too attached to my material comfort, my financial security and my leisure activities. I am too worried about what other people think and not worried enough about what God thinks. I have a divided heart! Lord, I know I am yours and you are mine. You are my only hope, and the only one I can ultimately trust. Forgive me for giving away my heart to false gods. Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Out Came This Calf

Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf! (Ex 32:24b)

We like to pretend there is a certain inevitability to our sin. But sin is always a choice. It is comforting in the face of our guilt to think that the laws of nature took over and we were just innocent bystanders. But if we look back at the sequence of events leading up to our sin we will always find a moment of decision. There was a fork in the road and I took the wrong path. After that moment there may have been a sense of inevitability, a feeling of being carried along by forces I could not control. But before that moment I had a choice. I could have walked away. That moment of choice, that way of escape, is always available according to the promises of God (I Cor 10:13). If we look for it we will find it. We have the power to choose because we have the Spirit of God living in our hearts.

Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7:24-25)